shellac all shook up; now what?

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OK, I'm trying flakes for the first time. I'm attempting to make a 1# cut.
So I poured 2 cups of alkie-haul in a quart jar, then I measured out 2 oz. of flakes using a cheapo diet scale. I ground up the flakes in SWMBO's handy-chopper. Hope she doesn't mind. :)
Then I added the flakes to the alkie-haul and commenced shaking. At first I thought it was completely insane to think that you could ever dissolve the dry equivalent of about 3 cups of powder in 2 cups of liquid. I shook, and shook, and shook, and nothing happened.
I let it sit a minute or two, then I did a new round of shaking. After about four good sloshes, something magic happened right before my eyes. Instead of brown liquid on top of a conblafulation of gooey looking, translucent flakes sticking to everything, I suddenly had a jar full of what looks like coffee with a drop of milk added to it. Amazingly, it's only something like 18 fl. oz.
Is it actually done that fast? I was under the impression it took days weeks to dissolve fully. I see all the knees and elbows and stuff I need to get rid of at the bottom. I'm thinking I might ought to just let it sit for a good bit and then pour off the liquid into another jar. Decant and de-knee in one step.
I'm also thinking, come to think of it, that 1# cut is a little annoying to use. I should add a little more. Maybe another ounce to make a 1.5# cut. I think that's what I wound up with last time, with the Bullseye stuff. 3# was too thick, 1# was so thin that I had to do 30 coats just to get the film to rise above miniscule undulations in the wood grain. So yes, I think I'll go add another ounce of flakes while I've got everything out anyway.
Anyway, this was pretty painless if it was that easy. And this should probably still be good until the first of May, at least?
I can't wait to see what color this comes out. I had the impression that "orange" shellac was more of an amber poly type color, but it's more like coffee. It ought to be good for making purplish KD walnut look more like walnut is supposed to look, but it might be too overpowering on maple or mahogany. I'll have to try it and find out, won't I? :)
When can I try it? Can I try it now? Tomorrow? Friday? Once it has apparently dissolved, is that the end of the prep work and time to get out some raw wood to play with? Or do I probably have a huge glob of undissolved lurking in there, which keeps sloshing out of view, and will only reveal itself after this brew has settled completely?
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Silvan wrote:

You can try it as soon as you pour the alcohol in. But my advice is to let it sit until all the gooey stuff on the bottom gets taken up into the alcohol. Then you know what cut you are dealing with and it will also go what you are putting it on the wood in the first place for.
It will last long enough to make you forget when you actually cooked off this batch.
Deb
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Dr. Deb wrote:

Well, as far as I can figure, all the gooey stuff is really gone, just that quick. Even after I went back and dumped another ounce of raw, un-crushed flakes in there. Amazing. I figured it would take days. Especially at the ~40 F temperature I did it at. I haven't decanted it yet because the milky stuff is still finely suspended, but I've given it a little test dip on a scrap from every species I had laying around. It looks a *lot* better on wood than it did in the jar. I can see using it over blonde because sometimes blonde is just too revealing of the fact that a wood doesn't have as much color as I'd like.
It was ridiculously easy to make compared to all the tales of woe I've read here. I think I'm sold on doing it this way. Better than buying a can and wasting some portion of it. Mix as needed.
I'm using flakes from Lee Valley BTW, if anyone cares.
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Silvan wrote:

that would be the wax residue. Let it sit quietly for a few days and decant. Or if you got no probs with wax (no frnch polish in your horizon) then go ahead and use it as is.

Yeah, blondes have that problem... <d&r>

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Noons wrote:

Oh, boy, now, I'm confused. I thought the whole idea behind buying the flakes is that there would be no wax. Otherwilse wouldn't you just get the stuff out of the can?
TIA, Josie
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On Tue, 01 Feb 2005 22:15:47 -0500, firstjois wrote:

Some flakes are dewaxed, some aren't (Hock is dewaxed, FWIW). The true beauty of dry shellac is that it keeps damn-near forever and you can mix any sort of cut that you want.
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firstjois wrote:

Not really. De-waxed or not is a type of shellac, if it comes in flakes or pre-mixed is simply a distribution choice. What you can't get (usually) pre-mixed is the variety you get with flakes.
No sweat, though: removing the wax is as simple as decanting or filtering that "milky" stuff you talked about. Or just ignoring it if your particular finish target doesn't bother with wax.
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firstjois wrote:

Well, there's a little more to it than that. You can buy dewaxed out of a can. They call it "Seal Coat" I think. You can buy dewaxed flakes too, I think.
I bought these flakes for a coupla good reasons.
* Zinsner doesn't market shellac in any flavor other than vanilla AFAIK. (Blonde.) I wanted to try orange, because I actually used to like the ambering effect of poly, but I like the working qualities of shellac better. I wanted to explore the options for toning without staining.
* I wasted a good third of my last can of shellac because it went bad before I used it up. I do small projects. I can mix flakes in small batches.
* I wanted to mix some flakes just for the Dorker Points. I are a real dorker now that I have taken granulated bug spoo and turned it into wood finish.
* I was too cheap to pay for dewaxed flakes.
It came out looking pretty good, incidentally. I've got four coats on a walnut scrap now. I'm not quite convinced I like the color after all, but at least I still get the Dorker Points. If I wind up not using it on walnut, I'll use it on something else. It looks good on maple and oak. Not so impressive on greenish poplar, but that's not a great surprise. Haven't tried on Jum's finest yet.
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Silvan wrote:

Yeah, they sell amber (which is orange)in the same 3 lb cut as their blonde). They don't sell an amber dewaxed as far as I know.

The Zinsner should last much longer than your just mixed batch. Obviously the unmixed flakes will far outlast the Zinsner. Based on comparitive costs, I find that I could toss half the Zinsner (18 oz of a 32 oz can) cheaper than making my own 18 oz of shellac. You are far more limited in your flavors, however.

I like amber on walnut. It seems to deepen and mellow the look. Using the amber on pine gives an old fashion look that I kinda like but the wife and daughter detest. Needless to say, the only amber shellac on pine at my house is on my shop cabinets.

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Dave Hall wrote:

used/made/bought. Big help. Josie
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Dave Hall wrote:

It should have lasted longer than it did. I must conclude that it was old when I bought it. Most of the cans have a liberal coating of dust, which is not encouraging.
Anyway, I turned bug spoo into wood finish. That was pretty cool everything else aside.
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Zinsser's Seal Coat is dewaxed with atypical shelf life of 3 years they assert. Their spray can shellac is also dewaxed as wax plugs the spray tip. The rest of their stuff is waxy. I buy flakes mostly from Homestead and store flakes and mixed in garage fridge. Flakes mixed has a shelf life of about 3 months.
On Wed, 02 Feb 2005 03:20:47 -0500, Silvan

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I'm using some orange LV flakes on some maple shelves I'm building for the office. Padded it on. Love the way it looks.
djb
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On Tue, 1 Feb 2005 22:15:47 -0500, the inscrutable "firstjois"

You can buy the less expensive shellac (in a range of colors) which have not been dewaxed, or you can pay more for the dewaxed and better-filtered stuff.
If his "milk" was more than 5-10 drops worth, he might be inclined to request a replacement. He was talkin' bug parts, too. Either he bought the cheap, unfiltered, waxy stuff or someone mixed up the labels, 'cuz it should have contained neither. His can of alcohol might have picked up some water if it was previously opened, or there might have been a bit of moisture in the jar he used which could also have accounted for the milky stuff. Ideally, there will be little to none. I think I had two/three drops worth in the Super Blonde O'deen's Special I first mixed up. Depending upon your use, a little bit won't hurt.
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It isn't difficult at all. I mix my own and buy zinser. I have found zinser to be of high quality and I use alot of shellac. Love the way it pops the grain. I use orange and cut it up with alc. What I especially like is the seal coat which is really dewaxed shellac... A whole lot less work than dewaxing it myself. But for a certain look I will still start from flakes, or buttons and mix different variations... you gotta experiment.... sometimes I like the look, and sometimes.... well it can't always come out smelling like roses. buttonlac will take more time than flakes to disolve. Flakes can be ready in a few minutes... I let it sit a halfhour to an hour anyway.. Then mix again and go. For dewaxed I usually let it sit a day or two before pulling off the top... And be careful to not move the jar or shake it up b4 pulling off the top.... otherwise its waxed again.
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On Tue, 01 Feb 2005 13:46:29 -0500, Silvan wrote:

Don't forget to filter. Unless you're a professional decanter, you'll pull up some bits you don't want. (IANA shellac guru, but I've decanted, centrifuged, dialyzed, filtered and otherwise separated lots of thises from scads of thatses.)
Use a separatory funnel (ebay has 'em) to draw off the waxy gunk at the bottom. Best way, bar centrifuging, for the home shop. I'm gonna do it that way as soon as, well, someday. An analytical chemist could post some more hints and tips.
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It really _is_ that easy. It's so easy that even someone as impatient as I am has to really work to screw it up.
Use a thicker cut if you ever get back to using that lathe of yours, and rub it on as a friction finish.
The last shellac purchase I made came a week or so ago, from Homestead. They have the ultra pale, hyper-refined in Germany that seems to best match the Platina that our resident, ustabe shellac vendor made famous. And was what I used on the parts of the in-process maple nightstands which have already been shellacked.
BTW, dealing with Homestead is another of those really nice experiences in woodworking. Definitely recommended.
Now if I can just get back to that nightstand project...
Patriarch
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On Tue, 01 Feb 2005 13:46:29 -0500, the inscrutable Silvan

Hint: Do NOT tell her. She'll bust a stitch whappin y'all upside the haid.

Did you warm the jar of solution in hot water? It speeds things up. Use denatured alky instead of isopropyl? It also speeds things up.

The milky substance is water and/or wax. Let it precipitate out and pour off the pure liquid above it. That's your dewaxed sheelacky.

Yes, decant and repent, sinner. Elbows and knees? You didn't buy any of the pure stuff from our Saint of Sheelack, didja? Foo. He sold the pure sh*t, man. Da kine.

Mais oui.

Once you wipe it on a piece of wood (thin coats, right?) it's considerably lighter than the coffee color you see now because it's not diffusing light through 3-5" of finish.

Once it's dissolved, it's ready to go. Wipe away!
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Larry Jaques wrote:

Us all? I'm a little confused by that. You do realize that y'all is a plural subject pronoun, don't you?
ah we you y'all s/he/it they

I didn't warm it, no. Yes, it's good drinkin' hootch with some wood squeezin's mixed in. Fresh can. A can designed by imbeciles too. I made a hell of a mess trying to pour it into a jar. Luckily denatured alcohol is also the stuff they put in spray cans and sell as ice melter, so all it did was melt some of the snleet in on my shop porch. I had the good sense not to try to pour it inside my wooden shop, which turned out to be a really good thing. :)

Seems to be a touch business, that. Breathe on it good, and it stirs back up. I should think about some clever way to siphon it off, rather than pour.
Will the gunk take up less and less space eventually? Right now the jar is about 2/3 gunk, 1/3 pure dewaxed shellac. If I siphon this off, I don't get much shellac for my trouble. Either way, what do I do with the jar of ultra waxy leftovers? I got rid of the last of my last batch of (canned) shellac by using it to get the Yule bonfire off to a good start. I hate to waste 2/3 of a jar of this stuff though if there's some use for it. (Although I'm hoping the ratio of gunk to black coffee will improve by morning.)

Probably not any elbows and knees. There's a little bit of random black crap in the bottom.

Yeah, it looks pretty good. I'm going to have to hurry up and get something ready to finish with it, n'est-ce pas?
I'm not sure if I like this on walnut or not. I'll have to experiment. It does good things for maple assuredly.
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Silvan wrote:

You must not be from the south. "All y'all" is the plural. :-)

I'm not optimistic about it dissolving anymore just by sitting there. As for what to do with the leftovers -- I have used the wax residue to seal the ends of green wood that's drying in my shop. It seems to work OK.
FWIW, I use cheesecloth to strain my shellac. Either buy fine stuff or double it. Put cheesecloth over the mouth of a clean container, hold it in place with a rubberband around the rim and pour.
I even tried using a coffee filter just to see how it worked, but I don't recommend that unless you have a lot of time. :-) (But the shellac sure came out nice and clean.)
Another FWIW, when I mix shellac I pulverize it in a coffee grinder reserved just for that. I pour the desired amount of alcohol into the jar and then sprinkle the flakes on top. I set the jar in a bucket partially filled with hot water (obviously keep any open heat sources away from this; I just use hot tapwater), give the shellac a couple of stirs and then put the lid on the jar (I put in on a bit loosely just in case there's any pressure built up from the heat plus alcohol).
Let it sit for a while and then give it a stir, put some more hot water in the bucket and re-seal. Repeat as necessary depending on the temperature in your shop, quality of the shellac, and whether the flakes are dewaxed or not (or even whether you're using flakes or not; buttonlac creates a waxy goo that needs a bit more attention than Paddylac Superblonde).
I usually do this operation the day before I need the shellac, and come back the next day and strain it. If you need "instant shellac" you can do the whole operation in an hour or two. You just might have a bit more residue to strain (and wind up with a thinner cut in the process)
Chuck Vance
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